NFPA Journal - September/October 2013 - (Page 44)

>>WILDFIRE WATCH News from NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division MOLLY MOWERY From Russia with Hope T his summer, I traveled to Russia for the 4th International Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference and for several stakeholder meetings. The trip was a continuation of the relationship building our Wildland Fire Operations Division has undertaken with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs and several Russian agencies, and is part of our broader strategy to engage in international outreach on the wildfire front. Before I left the United States, many colleagues enviously commented on my luck in getting to go to Russia for work, especially St. Petersburg, a city known for its unique and beautiful cultural ALTHOUGH THE CONTEXT is very different, the concept of engaging residents in helping reduce wildfire risk can be embraced universally. attractions. But the glamour of international travel can quickly be replaced by a dose of reality: timeconsuming visa applications, long hours of travel, lost baggage, sleepless nights in a different time zone, and the helplessness of trying to communicate in another language. Those are just surface-level frustrations, though. Deeper challenges include finding and paying for translators, scheduling around many unknowns while keeping trip costs to a minimum, and attempting to set up effective meetings despite the current lukewarm political relationship between the United States and Russia. 44 NFPA JOURNAL SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013 Despite all that, there remains the opportunity for meaningful work. Fortunately, due to the strong collaborative nature of our relationship with the U.S. Forest Service, the trip was a success. The conference began on a somber tone as news of the Granite Mountain Russian villagers fight a wildfire in 2010. NFPA’s wildfire Hotshot crew fatalities in strategy calls for increased international outreach efforts. Arizona filtered through emails. This struck a deep chord with many Russian colleagues, split up, fragmenting the hillsides who have seen similar devastating into large houses next to forests or firefighter losses in recent wildfire seasmaller farms. Recent legislation sons. The tragedy also highlighted the has updated the country’s forestry critical need for continued research practices, but Russia still faces chaland application of fire behavior, fuel lenges similar to those in the United management, and wildland/urban States: a vast amount of land to be interface development issues premanaged by a shrinking number of sented during conference sessions. resources, ecological threats from Brad Kinder, U.S. Forest Service invasive species, and the incidental International Programs Specialist for consequences of a changing climate. Russia, Europe, and Near Asia, and I Meetings with state government focused our presentation on the chalofficials, firefighting agencies, and lenges and opportunities for moving environmental non-governmental international outreach forward. Draworganizations reinforced this need ing on our experiences with Canadian and potential for community-based and South African colleagues, we fire management in Russia. The highlighted the areas in Russia that opportunity for meeting this need have shown interest or potential in through introducing programs adopting a Firewise Communities such as Firewise Communities is model. Although the context is very one that NFPA will continue to purdifferent, the concept of engaging resisue with the U.S. Forest Service dents in helping reduce wildfire risk is International Programs, and we one that can be embraced universally. look forward to learning more from Later that week, we had a chance our Russian colleagues about their to visit the changing face of the Rusefforts to manage and prevent sian wildland/urban interface. Post unwanted forest fires. Soviet-era land ownership patterns have greatly changed, thus influencMolly Mowery is program maning the landscape and land uses. For ager for Fire Adapted Communities and International Outreach. example, collective farms have been Photograph: AP/Wide World Fighting wildfire through international outreach and relationship building

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - September/October 2013

NFPA Journal - September/October 2013
First Word
In a Flash
Heads Up
Structural Ops
In Compliance
Electrical Safety
Wildfire Watch
Cover Story: Furniture Flamability
Special Report
NFPA Reports
NFPA Reports
Fire Analysis + Research
Section Spotlight
What’s Hot
Looking Back

NFPA Journal - September/October 2013